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EARLYBIRD

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McConnell proposes bill to extend all Bush tax cuts, while Reid plans for vote on defense authorization bill. Plus: Poll finds weak support for GOP proposals.

Congress: Senate GOP Pushes To Extend All Tax Cuts

• Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "proposed legislation on Monday to continue all of the Bush-era tax cuts indefinitely, testing the willingness of Democrats to allow a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans in a weak economy and making clear that a partisan fight will extend deep into the campaign season if not beyond," the New York Times reports.

• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "intends next week to bring up the FY11 defense authorization bill," which "had been considered by many to be a long shot for floor consideration before the election break," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "It would thrust hot-button issues such as gays in the military and abortions at military hospitals into the spotlight less than two months before midterm elections."

 

• McConnell "and House Minority Leader John Boehner," R-Ohio, "have quietly asserted a tight grip over the GOP's midterm campaign, putting their reputations and legacies on the line as they devote enormous resources to rebuilding a Republican congressional majority," Politico reports.

• "After an August recess tour that included stops in 17 battleground districts around the country, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) returned to Capitol Hill confident that predictions of a lost majority are premature," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "In an interview Monday," he "hit Republicans for being too confident and promised a voter enthusiasm-builder/turnout effort bigger than anything the party has done before."

White House: Obama Expresses Confidence In Economy's Future

• "With just 50 days to go before the midterm elections, President Obama took his economic message to a Virginia suburb, telling a local family and small-business owners that the policies his administration has put in place will lead to a more solid future," the Washington Post reports.

 

Politics: Poll Find Weak Support For GOP Proposals

• "Americans offer tepid support for much of the Republican Party's domestic agenda, including repealing the new healthcare law and extending tax cuts for the wealthy, according to the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center," NationalJournal.com reports.

• "As the long and turbulent primary season of the midterm election campaign drew to a close on Monday, the Republican establishment was placing its confidence on hold and bracing for the prospect that voters in yet another state would send a message of defiance to party leaders in Washington," the New York Times reports. "The Senate primary in Delaware" today "was prompting anxiety among party officials, who feared that a victory by Christine O'Donnell, a candidate backed by the Tea Party, could complicate Republican efforts to win control of the Senate."

• "Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been holding a series of private dinners with top Republican business leaders, policy hands and donors from around the country since this spring, an indication that he's thinking more seriously about a presidential bid than he publicly lets on," Politico reports.

Economy: AIG Seeks To Speed Repayment of TARP Funds

• "American International Group Inc. and its government overseers are in talks to speed up an exit plan designed to repay U.S. taxpayers in full while enabling the giant insurer to regain independence, according to people familiar with the matter," the Wall Street Journal reports.

 

• "Thanks to better-than-expected economic data in the past two weeks, investors have downgraded the odds of the dreaded double-dip recession, paving the way for rallies in seven of the first eight trading days in September -- historically the worst month for stocks," USA Today reports.

• "The number of former workers seeking Social Security disability benefits has spiked with the nation's economic problems, heightening concern that the jobless are expanding the program beyond its intended purpose of aiding the disabled," the Washington Post reports.

• "The White House is considering appointing Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren to an interim role to help set up a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, people familiar with the matter said," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "Big Wall Street firms have the most bruised public reputations, but it's a collection of smaller banks that continues to plague the Treasury Department's bank bailout program," the Washington Post reports. "The latest report from the agency shows that more than 120 institutions -- nearly all of them small banks -- have missed their scheduled quarterly dividend payments, which is more than a sixth of the banks that received federal aid during the financial crisis."

Energy & Environment: Patent Filed For Fuel-Producing Bacterium

• "A biotech company plans to announce" today "that it has won a patent on a genetically altered bacterium that converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ingredients of diesel fuel, a step that could provide a new pathway for making ethanol or a diesel replacement that skips several cumbersome and expensive steps in existing methods," the New York Times reports.

National Security: U.S. Replaces British Troops In Helmand

• "After four bloody and frustrating years trying to secure the most dangerous town in Helmand Province, the British are pulling out with, at best, a draw," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Over the coming months, U.K. forces will leave Sangin and turn it over to the U.S. to finish the job."

• "The Obama administration is seeking to sell Saudi Arabia advanced aircraft worth up to $60 billion in what Pentagon officials say would be the largest-ever single foreign arms deal," the Washington Post reports.

Health Care: Unions Spend Against Democrats Who Opposed Health Bill

• "Despite the improved Republican chances for a takeover of the House, some unions are spending against Democratic incumbents who voted 'no' on healthcare reform," The Hill reports. "Unions vowed to go after members who didn't support the plan -- and some are keeping that pledge."

• "Scientists and inspectors at the federal agencies responsible for food safety say they face political and corporate interference with their work, according to a survey released Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonpartisan advocate for unbiased science in government," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "The nation's health-care system cannot be transformed by rationing medical care, President Obama's new Medicare chief," Donald Berwick, "said Monday in his first major speech," the Washington Post reports.

Technology: Lawsuit Seeks Details of NSA-Google Agreement

• "The National Security Agency should divulge information about its reported agreement with Google Inc. to help the Internet company defend itself against foreign cyber attacks, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by a privacy group," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "Microsoft announced sweeping changes on Monday to ensure that the authorities in Russia and elsewhere do not use crackdowns on software piracy as an excuse to suppress advocacy or opposition groups, effectively prohibiting its lawyers from taking part in such cases," the New York Times reports.

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